W.Va. Gubernatorial candidate: Time to legalize marijuana
Published: Thursday, October 11, 2012
Updated: Thursday, October 11, 2012 08:10
The issue of criminal penalties for the use of marijuana is one of the most sensitive issues that we face in our state. There are no easy answers that satisfy all sides and opinions on this issue, but there are some compelling facts that we should all consider in proposing decriminalization of marijuana.
First, marijuana is a naturally growing plant almost everywhere. Except for the drying process, it is primarily a natural substance in our nation. Current laws which make possession and use of marijuana illegal fly in the face of its natural presence in our environment.
Second, the use of marijuana is a self-decision process, whether for medical or medicinal purposes or for personal pleasure. It is appropriate for our state and national public health services to provide and publish all public health issues associated with the use of marijuana, but not to discourage its use through legislation. All detrimental aspects of the use of marijuana should be made public and the background research provided openly to all citizens.
Numerous states and communities are sanctioning the use of marijuana for medical purposes. This creates a difficult situation where individuals have to obtain medical prescriptions for specific and often unidentifiable diseases while the drug is still illegal in other states. Given the benign character of marijuana use, this is inappropriate discrimination.
Often the dangers to the public of marijuana use such as driving impediments, public nuisance, abnormal social behavior, etc., are claimed as justification for maintaining illegal use status for the drug.
These arguments sidestep the real issue, namely that we are all responsible for our conduct in society all the time, regardless of what drugs we use or avoid, and we are all responsible for our driving and any other social function that might bring harm to another. The prosecution of any individual for any crime against another citizen must be pursued equally regardless of the underlying cause. We are all responsible for our actions at all times.
The criminalization of the possession and use of marijuana has led to the prosecution, fining and/or incarceration of citizens who are guilty of no crime, have caused no damage to society, other citizens or their property, and may have their future lives ruined by an innocent transgression of inappropriate laws. Our prisons are packed with people who have done no harm to society. The use of marijuana is a self-inflicted process. All self-decided activities that have no influence upon others must be removed from the criminalization process.
Our courts and law enforcement officers have better things to do that search for and arrest marijuana users. There are real criminals in this nation that cause harm to all of us, and they are the ones upon whom our attention should be focused.
Let me make clear that I do not advocate or promote the use of marijuana, and I would continue to encourage sound research and publication of detrimental effects.
I also denounce the promotion of use to any other individual. And I denounce the sale of any drugs including marijuana to any minor or to any person who is legally, mentally or socially unable to make his or her own personal decisions. The violation of these laws must receive full prosecution. But your personal use is your own decision.
As Governor, I would promote the legal public sale and taxation of marijuana as a luxury consumable product, and I would promote the adoption of significantly high taxation on its sale and use. It is, after all, a nonessential product in our world … we can all get along quite well without it.
The Libertarian philosophy is that "We all have the intrinsic right to live in any way we wish as long as our actions have no adverse or detrimental effect on any other human or inhibit their rights to free life." This is a good and sound credo for life, and it applies well to the use of marijuana.
Now, get back to your studies. After all, that is why you are here at the University.
David Moran is the Libertarian candidate for West Virginia Governor.